In September, Richmond native Cathy Churcher left her full-time job of five and a half years (as director of admissions for the Bon Secours Memorial School of Nursing) and refocused her professional energy into Chocolate Cravings, her side business since 2006.
"I knew if I didn't do this now, I never would," Churcher says. Despite the weakened economy, she took a leap of faith, in part "because data shows that even in recessions, people buy chocolate. It's an indulgence you can still afford."
Most of her products are made with Cordillera dark-chocolate bark from Colombia, including her best-selling ginger and cardamom bark and a savory alternative with smoked almonds and white sea salt. "I like experimenting with different tastes," says Churcher, who rents a commercial kitchen at Lavender Fields Herb Farm in Glen Allen.
Churcher received professional certification from Ecole Chocolat in 2005, and she travels abroad annually to keep abreast of the latest chocolate-making trends. This past April, she visited cacao plantations in Costa Rica; two years ago, she journeyed to "Chocolate Valley" in Tuscany. She works about 80 hours a week, compared to 40 in her earlier health-care job, but Churcher says she now has "more of a life" and enjoys being able to see her 11-year-old son when he gets home from school. He's also involved in the business, recording all sales as Chocolate Cravings' bookkeeper.
You can find Churcher's delectable edibles at the Byrd House, Lakeside and Williamsburg farmers' markets, as well as Ellwood Thompson's Local Market, J. Emerson and Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. For more information, call 363-6873.